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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Column: Time to address the connection between mass shootings and mental health

    In January 2013, 15-year-old Nehemiah Griego killed his parents and three siblings in their New Mexico home. A judge will be deciding whether now 18-year-old Griego will be sentenced as a minor or as an adult.

    According to KOAT Action 7 News, if Griego were to be sentenced as a minor, he would receive mental treatment until the age of 21 and would then be released. If punished as an adult, Griego would be looking at the rest of his life in prison.

    The main debate in this case is whether Griego’s mental health issues are amenable for him to be set free after only a few years of treatment. While the severity of mental instability is unclear in this case, it brings to light a big problem that has been affecting the U.S. for quite some time: mental health.

    There seems to be a ridiculously normal pattern of mental health issues among mass murderers in the U.S.

    To name a few, Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome. Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes had a history of unfinished psychiatry treatment and the former Tucson Rep. Gabrielle Giffords shooter Jared Loughner showed signs of schizophrenia.

    When it comes to mass shootings, the topic usually brought into conversation is about gun regulations. However, no one ever addresses what drove these people to commit these crimes in the first place.

    We have made it something very normal to just mark the shooting off as a mental instability incident and then move on with our lives.

    The point isn’t to stereotype all people with mental health issues as mass murderers. Not every person with Asperger’s Syndrome or schizophrenia will go on a killing rampage and we all know that.

    The objective is to shame the country for not providing the appropriate care to those who suffer from mental health issues.

    For example, the Phoenix New Times reported in December 2015 that Arizona was ranked 50th in access to healthcare, based on a study by Mental Health America. This meant that Arizona had a high number of people with mental illnesses and low access to the appropriate healthcare to address them.

    The only state ranked lower than Arizona was Oregon, which suffered from a mass shooting in October 2015 at a community college.

    With so many mass murders happening every year, one would think that there would be heightened awareness toward mental health issues, but it still appears to be a very touchy topic regarding Griego.

    By opting to ignore the influence of mental health upon massacres, it’s as if we are saying that we prefer to have loved ones kill and be killed before helping them.

    Over the years, mental health issues have not only played a role in massacres, but also in suicides and homelessness.

    As explained by the National Coalition for the Homeless, there are high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder among homeless veterans.

    It isn’t normal for so many shootings to happen in so many schools, so let’s stop pretending like it is. It’s time that we stop choosing the easy option of just moving forward without addressing the issue.

    Follow Genesis Lara on Twitter.

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